Lawsuit Filed in Deadly FSU Construction Accident

By: Kevin Clark; Eyewitness News Email
By: Kevin Clark; Eyewitness News Email

UPDATE: WCTV Eyewitness News
August 4, 2015

TALLAHASSEE -- The family of a Tallahassee plumber has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on his behalf.

25-year-old Travis Joseph Miller died in July 2014 on a construction site at Florida State University. A temporary construction elevator fell and struck him as he sat on a window ledge.

The suit claims the window opening didn't have protective guards as required by safety protocol.

The suit names Culpepper Construction, work supervisors and the FSU Board of Trustees. Miller's family also filed a motion for a speedy trial.


UPDATE: U.S. Department of Labor
January 7, 2015

Florida State University construction fatality results in citations
and fines for 4 Tallahassee, Florida, construction companies

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A 25-year-old employee of Miller’s Plumbing and Mechanical Inc. died after being struck and crushed by a material/personnel elevator carriage not enclosed on all four sides. The employee was working on a six-story residential project at Florida State University.

After an investigation of the July 28, 2014, fatality, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the employer allowed a window-frame opening in a building under construction to be uncovered, which exposed workers to the hazard of being struck and crushed by the elevator carriage as it passed within inches of the opening. OSHA then issued citations to Culpepper Construction Co. Inc., Miller’s Plumbing, Benchmark Erectors Inc. and Fleck Exterior Systems Inc., all based in Tallahassee, for serious and willful safety violations.

“Culpepper and Miller’s management acknowledged workers were exposed to a serious safety hazard, but failed to ensure all four sides adjacent to the material hoist structure were protected adequately,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville. “The employers’ inaction and lack of commitment to a safe workplace has caused this tragic loss.”

General contractor Culpepper Construction Co. and Miller’s Plumbing each were issued a willful citation for exposing workers to crushing hazards. Additionally, Benchmark Erectors and Fleck Exterior Systems were each cited with one serious violation for the same safety hazard.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Proposed penalties for the four companies total $149,800. View current citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/MillersPlumbing_987167.pdf.

Culpepper Construction Co. provides constructing management design-and-build services. Miller’s Plumbing installs and services commercial plumbing and mechanical systems. Benchmark Erectors specializes in historical, commercial and security window sales and installation. Fleck Exterior Systems installs insulation finish systems and stucco.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries in Florida accounted for 234 of the 4,405 fatal work injuries reported nationally in 2013. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Jacksonville Area Office at 904-232-2895.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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UPDATE: Julie Montanaro
January 7, 2015

OSHA has slapped four companies with citations and fines for a deadly construction accident at FSU.

25-year-old Travis Miller was killed in July while working on a new campus dorm.

Today, OSHA cited Culpepper Construction, Miller's Plumbing, Benchmark Erectors and Fleck Exterior Systems and is proposing fines of more than $149-thousand dollars.

OSHA says the companies failed to close off a window frame and Miller was crushed by a moving elevator as a result.

"They investigated this incident and found serious and willful safety violations so somebody's not doing their job," said Miller family attorney Sid Matthew.

Matthew filed a notice of the family's intent to sue FSU last month.


Update: Kevin Clark
July 28, 2014
3:40 p.m.

The man is 25-year old Travis Joseph Miller of Tallahassee, FL. He was a subcontractor on site working for Miller's plumbing.


Update: Kevin Clark
July 28, 2014
1:40 p.m.

According to FSU Deputy Chief of Police James Russell, FSU PD and emergency services received a call at 12:01 PM regarding a construction accident on Woodward Avenue where they're building new residence halls.

Upon arrival they learned of a construction worker fatally injured in an elevator accident.

FSU Police Dept, TFD, Leon County EMS, FSU First Responder Unit all responded.

More details to come. Investigation is under way.


News Release: FSU
July 28, 2014

Emergency services working a construction accident at construction site off of Woodward Avenue on the FSU campus.

No threat to campus. Campus is under normal operating conditions at this time. No road closures are in effect.


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